Our 6 Step Solar Panel Installation Guide
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Once a customer has determined a solar company and financing option, they are ready to install solar. A solar array, however, can’t be installed at this point. There are still several other steps that are required.
Often customers aren’t aware of what these processes are and how long it typically takes to complete them. This causes unnecessary frustration for the customer. Understanding what goes into a solar installation before and after the actual install provides a clear reasonable expectation for the customer.
Go Solar Group has a succinct 6-step installation process. Take a look at what our customers should expect after financing has been approved.
1. Solar Site Evaluation
Solar companies provide free in-person assessments. These calculations are based on google rendered images and solar measuring software.
Although these assessments are close they are still an educated guess of the size and dimensions of the installation site. Once the customer has decided on a company these measurements need to be verified.
The solar company needs to go out to the home and get these measurements so that they can create accurate plans for the home’s solar array.
Site Evaluation Duration and Process
This data informs the design specialist of any needed adjustments before creating the solar plans. Site evaluations normally take between 30-40 minutes.
How You Can Help Expedite the Site Evaluation
There are a couple of things that customers can do to help the site evaluation go smoothly. The first is to respond to our scheduling calls. Installations can’t proceed until the homeowner approves the scheduled site evaluation.
Although we prefer that customers are there for the evaluation, they don’t need to be. Once the site evaluation is on the schedule the customer can decide whether or not they would like to be there for it. On the day of the site survey, it will help if pets are kept indoors, and the entrance to the backyard is unlocked.
2. Acquiring City/Utility/HOA Approval
From the site survey, Go Solar Group can create site plans and electrical plans. These are then submitted for approval.
Obtaining city, utility and HOA approval is vital to the installation process. Nothing can happen until these approvals are in hand.
The problem is that sometimes getting these approvals takes longer than expected. Or the customer is unaware of the typical wait period for these approvals.
Duration and Process of Approvals
Approval is the most time-consuming part of the process. It can take anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks for city permits and utility authorization to go through.
If the customer lives in an HOA, they also need to get approvals from their homeowner association. HOA’s can take anywhere between 30 to 45 days to process the request.
How You Can Help Us Obtain Approvals
Individuals that live in HOAs can help by communicating. Letting the HOA know that plans will be sent to them and then following up with them can help speed the process.
Another way to help is to keep all the information on the utility bill the same until the solar installation is complete. A name change or utility bill ownership change will delay the installation process.
It costs about $300 dollars for an engineer to justify the usage under a new name and an additional 3 to 4-week wait. Some utilities, like NV Energy, don’t except justified usage. Instead, they delay the approval by a year so they can collect usage under the new name.
3. Solar Installation: All Down Hill From Here
Once we have approval and necessary permits in hand, we can schedule the solar installation. The actual installation is the start of the downhill slope.
Once installed, the customer is only a couple steps away from turning on their solar array. Setting the expectation for the installation, however, will still speed up the process and decrease possible frustration.
What to Expect During the Installation
After obtaining the necessary approvals, it takes 1 to 3 days to have a solar array installed. Our roof crew installs the panels. Then our electrical crew installs the inverter, meter socket and safety switch.
How You Can Help With the Installation
A timely response to our installation scheduling call is ideal. The sooner the customer can get back to us the sooner they will be on the schedule.
On the day of the installation, it will help if any pets are kept inside. Whether the customer is there is optional, but it is preferred. Unlocking the entrance to the back yard and clearing the driveway will also help.
4. Getting the City Inspection
Once installed, the customer is ready for the city inspection. This is one of two inspections needed before the system can be turned on.
Although this inspection doesn’t take long it doesn’t normally happen on the same day as the solar installation. If the crew missed something, they may have to come back and fix it. This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes things are overlooked which is why inspections are necessary.
City Inspection Procedure and Expected Time
After the array installation is complete the city inspection will be scheduled. This inspection is normally scheduled 3 to 5 days after the installation. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
In this inspection, the city inspector examines the photovoltaic system. They make sure the array matches the submitted plans.
What You Can Do to Help the City Inspection
It is best if pets are kept inside during the inspection. Again the customer’s presence is optional. If the customer isn’t home, though, they should make sure their backyard is unlocked.
5. Utility Inspection and Commissioning
Once the installation has passed the city inspection, the array is ready for the utility inspection. The main purpose of this inspection is actually to install a different meter type.
This is a crucial step to installing a solar array. The new meter helps the utility company accurately track electricity put on and taken off the grid.
What Happens During Utility Inspection and Commissioning
The utility inspection typically takes between 30 to 45 minutes to complete. The utility inspector comes to the home, installs a PV meter and switches out the old meter.
After the new meter is installed the customer can turn on the solar array. It is important to make sure the system isn’t turned on before the new meter has been installed—the utility will fine you for it.
Helping With the Utility Inspection Process
The best way to help this inspection run smoothly is to keep pets inside and leave the backyard unlocked. Customers can be there if they would like, but they don’t have to be present.
6. Installing Solar Monitoring
The final step to the installation process is setting up the monitoring system. Monitoring allows the customer to keep track of their solar production.
It is important to note, however, that the production on the monitoring app will be different than the utility. This is because the utility is tracking what goes in and out of the meter. While the monitoring app is tracking all solar production.
Go Solar Group’s Inverter Monitoring Set-up Expectations
Setting up the monitoring system take between 45 to 60 minutes. As part of our installation process, we install the monitoring system for our customers. However, customers can do it themselves if they want.
Your Part in Setting up Solar Monitoring
Once the customer has their login credentials they will need to set up a login and password. It is important to keep this information in a safe labeled spot in case you forget it. Forgetting passwords is one of the most common monitoring concerns.